Ensure engagement goes beyond organised groups...

Ensure engagement goes beyond organised groups...

Ensure that community engagement by MSPs doesn’t exclude people that are outwith community groups, including by using evenings, weekends and online services.


Important, but MSPs with children and other commitments should not be given extra work. There should be a work and home life balance.

Look beyond existing structures - often local community development trusts are excellent in reaching beyond the usual suspects... DTAS might be able to help.

JustCitizens think that the Scottish Parliament should look at ways to reach people who are not part of organised groups. MSPs could start by using local libraries to host informal events where people can go and ask questions that are not attached to a specific political agenda, but that focus more on the work of the Scottish Parliament and ways for people to engage. Local libraries are great places to reach people from the community, they are often open until late in the evening, have space for kids and are not affiliated with one political party or ideology.

Setting up dedicated online platforms that can both advertise engagement opportunities and provide the avenue to engage (e.g. quick online surveys) will help those who can't attend fixed meeting times. Having some evening and weekend sessions, even if without MSPs attending, will help those with work commitments, particularly if other support (e.g. creche facilities) are also provided.

Utilising effective methods of community engagement and community development expertise ensures that the needs and aspirations of communities are met.

Everyone is important, but also have to engage people who are not on social media. So engaging with community councils, local councils is important, but perhaps engagement through schools? I went to a Scottish Government event at Bell Baxter School in Fife - it was excellent, as the local community could ask questions directly to politicians. A cross party groups of MPS could hold meetings in the community.

Essential to try and involve those that are otherwise regularly excluded. However, speaking to organised groups of disabled people, carers, lone parents, LGBTI and BME communities can help in identifying unintentional barriers to participation which if addressed will increase involvement from under-represented groups.

Surgery days make it hard to people to engage with MSPs so we have to engage on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays instead, Parliament should be more flexible. Also, making sure that MSPs are properly educated on things like learning disabilities and autism in general is important.

More views and experiences of working class people and communities need to be heard and valued in the Scottish Parliament, in ways that are flexible and fit around working lives and families. Local community development approaches and networks as well as collaboration with trade unions and their networks may be beneficial and insightful. Currently, too many CEOs and Policy Officers of organised groups speak about working class people, as Committee witnesses or at Parliamentary engagement events, which is valid but not diverse or inclusive.

Not all people are involved in groups, and some issues arise suddenly, and it would be good to have the opportunity to discuss such issues with people and perhaps thereby raise groups in support. There should be regular dates and times set every week/month where people can meet with each other and with representatives to discuss issues that are important to them. At present, MPs surgery times are confusing. There should be more surgeries, and it would help to have local premises specifically designated for the purpose of meeting representatives and other constituents. It does make good use of school premises to have surgeries in schools, but having one, clearly defined space would help people engage more easily. perhaps an area within schools could be more clearly marked as being used for political purposes. Signs and message boards could be posted to make people aware of what is happening and when.

While MSPs should never aim to exclude people, I think as our democratically elected representatives they should be the ones to judge what community engagement they engage with, as ultimately if their constituents do not think they are doing enough they will be voted out.

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